The Inner Critic: Why are we so hard on ourselves?


Most of us will recognize it: being stricter with ourselves than with others. Certain things you only say to yourself and never to a friend. Or being more critical of what you do, but being more tolerant and gentle with others. But why exactly are we so strict with ourselves? In Frederike Mewe’s new book, Good As You Are , she clearly explains why we are so self-critical and sometimes feel like we’re never good enough.

Your inner critic wanted you well, because she wanted to protect you from criticism from the outside world.

To grow up

While growing up from child to adult you are very vulnerable. You are open to receive everything that happens in your life. These are the beautiful and good things and the painful and worse things. These things initially come through your educators, in most cases your biological parents. The circle of influencers continues to expand from your parents to siblings, relatives, nursery teachers, friends, classmates and neighbors, teachers and so on. All these people play a role in developing your identity and self-image. In addition, culture, society and the time in which you grow up also play a role in your development.

Attachment and different attachment styles

The first people you become attached to in your life are your parents or educators. According to psychotherapist Franz Ruppert, the attachment already starts during pregnancy. He believes that what the mother eats, drinks and smokes as well as her emotional moods influence the development of the child. This creates different forms of attachment that influence the way we view ourselves and the relationships with others.

Secure attachment: Positive self-image, self-esteem, ability to form relationships with others.

Preoccupied attachment style: Self- esteem depends on the appreciation and recognition of others, very dependent on the other.

Avoidant attachment style: Positive self-image, denial of negative feelings, and rejection of the need for intimate relationships.

Anxious attachment style: Negative self-image, distrust of others, fear of close relationships due to separation anxiety.


A negative self-image often creates a kind of ‘inner critic’ in your head. This voice in your head criticizes or comments on everything you do or want to do. Whatever you do, it’s never good enough for your ‘inner critic’. Often your inner critic has come into your life at a young age, with the intent to protect you and keep you from danger.

Because of that attentiveness and criticism, you have accomplished things that might not have been possible otherwise. Your inner critic wanted you well, because she wanted to protect you from criticism from the outside world. Only this voice has gone too far and the criticism is now also audible at times when it mainly bothers you. While working, exercising, in a fitting room, with friends and family. This makes you insecure and even stricter on yourself.

In order to be more kind to yourself, it is important to let the critical voice within you sing a little lower and to give the loving voice, the voice that speaks from self-compassion, more volume. This won’t be easy to do, but you can start by saying something positive about yourself every day when you look in the mirror.


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